CMT has pulled the recently released music video for Jason Aldean’s new single “Try That In a Small Town,” which aggressively attacks recent riots and rising lawlessness in the United States.
The video has since received 346,000 views on YouTube and features Aldean performing in front of a courthouse amid interspersed footage of “a flag burning, protesters screaming and attacking police in various scenarios, and robbing a convenience store,” according to Billboard.
Later in the video, a Fox News chyron appears with the words “state of emergency declared in Georgia.” Aldean’s video juxtaposes these violent images with more harmonious scenes like a girl playing hopscotch and a raised American flag. Critics of the song took issue with several lyrics wherein Aldean calls out criminals and rioters directly. Per Billboard:
Written by Kelly Lovelace, Neil Thrasher, Tully Kennedy and Kurt Michael Allison, the song is an often confrontational take, with lyrics challenging those who “carjack an old lady at a red light” or “pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store” or “cuss out a cop” to try that in a small town and “see how far ya make it down the road/ around here, we take care of our own.”
In a later verse, Aldean, who was on stage when the worst gun massacre in U.S. history took place at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, sings, “Got a gun that my granddad gave me/ They say one day they’re gonna round up/ Well, that sh-t might fly in the city/ Good luck.”
Aldean addressed the controversy over his song after CMT removed it from circulation on Tuesday in a lengthy message on his Instagram Stories.
“I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject too the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he said.
Aldean asserted that he never brought race into the song and that he used real news footage.
“NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart. … ‘Try That In A Small Town,’ for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief,” he said.
According to Variety, critics of the song were also incensed over Aldean filming “in front of a courthouse in Colombia, Tennessee that is well known for having been the sight of a lynching of a Black man in the 1920s.” Aldean did not address this controversy.
In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.…
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) July 18, 2023
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